Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensibly researched and proved economic treatise. It’s technically “fiction” but I suppose if you can find ways to show these ideas have merit, please do reference. Thanks. — Anne W.R.
An economic system that marries the laws of physics with economics.
Adam Smith directly applied the idea that every individual renders labour to society. As we know, this model starts with an assumption that can no longer be said to be entirely true. Especially since labour and society are both economic models of their own with complex relationships which can be modelled but not ever be perfected. With the needs and wants of society being finite, but the ability for provision of labor within that society and their for the benefit of product from labor must also be finite.
However if one was to imagine for a minute that these assumptions are wrong, what would one come up with? Marx and Engles would argue that our Labour is the only thing that any person is truly able to control and that a worker can control one’s output to the profit or detriment of a labour holder. This labour holder is then of course forced to use means to make sure that a worker continues to output at a profitable margin, using either social, psychological or physical methods to keep output at a rate that remains to ensure labour reaps a reward that the labour holder feels sufficient to continue. Such continued relationships have led to both the corporation and the labour union both of whom will continue to push against each other to get better outcomes for the regard of their interests and a inherent conflict in a capitalist system that lies between them.
Communism has its own view of capital and does get some things right. The labor holder that is collective, in the end, has to be the responsibility of the collective, or be placed on someone who acts on the behalf of the collective be it democratic or via consensus. However, it does not render the individual immune with the issues that may come from technology change.
As capital is gained, by any means, to any possession, technology will eventually improve. In both systems a more effective, efficient, progressive system or set of systems ultimately benefits a whole. The worker, however, they are employed, always will have a maximum output. Technology though, will have a maximum impact but new impact can greatly effect old systems. The land that one works will always have a maximum yield and that can decrease with time if it is not looked after correctly. Much like a worker has a maximum yield given current technology and processes will decrease if not looked after. Technology needs maintaining and if not improvement then other change may easily make it no longer useful.
These are, to many fundamental knowns. Improving the land or the work with technology gives a certain level of gain until again a point is reached that a worker, or the land, or technology itself is unable to be improved by any means.
We have seen this in a capitalist system tends to lead to greater monopolisation of a market, as technology allows both workers, supplier and individual consumer become within themselves products that are worth value to a corporation or collective whom then gains profit more easily by predicting consumer or collective behaviours. The corporation can through this process become more powerful than the government, if not synonymous with it.
In a communistic system, it tends to allow the system itself to gain greater autonomy, greater power over an individual worker until the system itself becomes so powerful it acts as if it was a capitalistic corporation. This is of course if, and only if, the communistic system belongs within a world were other systems exist. It cannot be a true communist system and hope to survive in trade against capitalistic predators. At least all current examples have shown as such if they were actually communist. A communistic system that is holistically encompassing the entire world is difficult to predict as no such example has ever existed. A lack of property and individuals, money and such have a strange, almost impossible dream within only existence in our fiction.
Both systems will reach a point, regardless, that is unable to grow. In a capitalistic system this can feed growth beyond the system if it can, or corruption if it is not, often both. Communistic systems do not need to grow continuously and thus may only seek growth as a means of greater technological improvement for all workers in such a system.
This is based on a simple premise, that is, even economics cannot breach a law so fundamental that nothing can do: the first and second laws of thermodynamics.
Any society wishing to reach beyond into the the steps of the Kardashev scale will need to begin to realise that the economics of workers and corporations, of cultures and systems all, reach a point that they are fundamentally energy users, storers or creators.
The base 0 economic development would be any society, that has been only using any economic system were physical value is exchanged. That is both barter and capital monetary systems.
Of course, the value of either system helps create trade and commerce in them. They are not in any way inherently without value. This is to say they both exist in single and multiple world economic systems. Especially when commerce of one value system is hard to compare with another. However, the ability of one of the traders to take advantage of or affect the entire system if the other is very apparent. One can see this in any culture that has had colonization forces.
In neither, of these systems, however, is it possible to trade in a way that is placing value as a constant. It’s impossible to do so.
Base 1 economic system
In a Kardashev scale, a base 1 civilization must be one that has the ability to gather and store as near as to as close as possible too all the energy available on its planet or moon. Or be able to gather the equivalent amount of energy within all its environs.
It’s without a doubt that such a civilization would have to go beyond a monetary or barter system. Why?
Barter as it is, has the issue of the fundamental disagreement of value. Value is a issue that none will always agree upon, a bushel of wheat might be worth a chicken today but be worth two tomorrow. It may also be worth more to a starving person than it is to a person who has plenty. A tribe may attempt to control this economy but it will always have this issue.
Money as it is, representing a value of a thing at its heart, trying to be better at finding a common value among other things. A bushel of wheat is worth two copper coins, which can buy one Chicken. Again value changes over time, and the actual coin itself has a value that can also change over time. Then a market will have value in itself that changes over time.
This however, can lead to terrible economic policy. One does not have to look hard to find forests full of biodiversity being destroyed and replaced for a single crop as to the value of that crop is seen as greater, or more liquid, than the biodiversity of the forest. Yet no less than a few years later the land floods, as none of the trees are there to stop it. Or a disease spread through the crop-destroying it all. Or maybe the forest has an animal that could have been keeping an insect away. This insect now swarms in never seen before numbers. Killing all the crops and causing widespread famine.
The intrinsic value of the crop is not seen as valuable now? The money is no use in a world without the means to use it. Its value becomes worthless, and it should be noted that this money can’t really be real, if the path to create it caused more damage than its actual value. Yet the value is just placed on the item itself and not the path that is used to make the item or its continued Impact over time.
A base 1 economy goes to the next step beyond money. The idea of money isn’t intrinsically bad in a sense, but it fails to completely appreciate all the goals that money might be said to have. Not only does it become burdensome, it eventually gets to a point that the value of money no longer appears to have a basis in reality.
Money in effect, a base 1 economic system will find, is in fact a representative of energy. It must realize this to overcome the restrictions of money itself. In this system, there is no means of reducing the actual value of a unit. A unit is always going to be a unit. A joule is a joule.
This energy can be spent (a negative joule), or stored (a joule that eventually reduces over time depending on the efficiency of the storage system). There is, in theory, ways of still spending more joules than one is able to gain, but energy, unlike money, always gains negative interest. Entropy can not be beaten.
This makes two fundamental changes to any economic development. One, “energy money” becomes the representative of work done, and spending energy money is slightly better value than storing energy money. This encourages, in general, more spending of energy money than keeping it. It also reflects the reality of physics in that the system will regardless return to an absolute zero point. Of course, this is a very long way off, it does mean a economy only has limited growth opportunities within an enclosed system. Again representative of reality, continuing to attempt to work against the impossible unreality that ”continuous economic growth” represents and has inflicted upon the earth through the media of the homo sapiens.
Furthermore it can no longer be true that a area of production, such as land can be made more valuable to a area of buildings. Production should, always be, the primary source of economic growth after the generation of energy itself. As land food products are a way of creating greater level of energy than land that is consumed in building and becomes suburbia.
Equity will exist in a energy based economy, it can never be true that a area of productive land can be bought for any less than not just its current value but the potential value of the land over the next period of time, given average yields of the energy the crops would store and invigorate into the consuming market.
This Base 1 economic system looks different to a capitalist or communist system. Money, in the joule credit (JC) would exist. Always it would have to be tied to actually created energy. Be it from a effective efficient power source or from growing crops or other means.
The JC could then be used in the same way that a capitalist system may use it, except their would only the the concept of negative JC. Actually having negative JC wouldn’t entirely possible. Additionally any industry that doesn’t produce or store energy would have other means to make JC. Mainly if the industry improves upon the economy by improving health, education, or creatively inspiring, their is no reason that JC can’t be earned from these activities. Although actually not producing energy the JC would be credits, (Hence joule credit). The value of the product is transient but definitely improves the economy as a whole.
The economy could not “grow” in the same way. Energy can be stored and used, but the system cannot exist without loss. The overall loss of energy from any activity would be a value that could be used to help design a interest or in this case efficiency of system value. As each value credit (JC) is used it would loose a amount of value given on the efficiency of the transaction. Clearly some transactions are of higher efficiency than others. Effectively eventually a JC would have to loose value. This would drive any economic plan to greater energy effectiveness, and also discourage economic plans that destroyed the effectiveness of the whole system.
A primary example of a whole system effectiveness loss would be the destruction of land that comes from mining. The product that is mined needs to have a whole value life that is greater than the environmental impact and development impact that it would create. This sometimes is attempted in our capitalist system through environmental, and social impact statements but these often fail to fully comprehend the future potential impact and very rarely prove to be fully effective. Reclamation of land can be successful, but how much damage has that coal done to the world as a whole? Was it really worth a few more dollars for investors? Was it really worth the lives that cyclone took? It was boosted by the climate for change caused and some may say that coal company should have been accountable for that. Indeed they should. Each Joule of energy in this economy must be justified as effective and not cost more in future impact than its generation.
A base 2 economic system would take this even further. Now attempting to gather the entire energy system of a solar body it must now deal with energy systems greater than our current systems can even comprehend. Waste would be unthinkable. Everything must be designed to be reused as infinitely as possible.
A base 3 economic system would be attempting to gather the energy of a entire galaxy and thus be well beyond our current understanding of energy and economics.